Network Awarded $1.89M to Help Prevent Tidal Wave of Evictions


The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund has awarded the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) $1.89 million to increase housing counseling and outreach services to tenants at risk of eviction because of COVID-19. The grant will help provide tens of thousands of renters facing the threat of eviction, with vital services, including access to critical information, housing counseling and legal assistance, to help keep a roof over their heads.

“NJ -- has some of the strongest protections in place for renters impacted by COVID-19 but there’s nothing in place to prevent them from losing their homes once the moratorium on evictions expires,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Network. “Families are teetering on the edge of homelessness, and each month that passes without being able to make the rent adds to the stress of losing their homes. This grant will support community organizations conducting outreach and education, and expand housing counseling services. Housing counselors will be able to help renters protect themselves during this crisis and refer those who need legal help to our partners at Volunteer Lawyers for Justice.”

As the statewide association of community development corporations and housing advocates, the Network is the largest, funded housing counseling intermediary certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in New Jersey. Through the Department’s Office of Housing Counseling, the Network provides pass-through housing counseling program funding to its network of qualified sub-grantee affiliate organizations which deliver quality housing counseling services throughout the state. In this capacity, they exercise administrative oversight for nine housing counseling organizations and also provides technical assistance and training for more than 40 counseling groups around the state through their Network Housing Counseling Association.

“With the lessons learned in response to Superstorm Sandy, we know that getting correct information out through local organizations who are trusted and that are already working with many of the impacted residents, is the most effective and efficient way to provide services. We’ll be reaching out to our members and housing counseling organizations to get boots on the ground and set up additional services as quickly as possible,” said Sharon Barker, vice president and chief operating officer of the Network.

Almost 35,000 eviction orders have been filed in court since the pandemic began, although Governor Murphy’s executive order provides protection and prevents the courts from enforcing them. The Network and its partners are working to pass legislation known as “The People’s Bill,” which would outline clear repayment standards for tenants who were forced to miss their rent due to the pandemic and would require mortgage forbearance options for homeowners who have struggled to stay afloat during and after the public health emergency. It also prevents negative credit reporting for missing rent or mortgage payments during the pandemic. The bill, which passed this summer in the Assembly, has stalled in the Senate despite a push from Gov. Murphy during his budget address earlier this month.

“Before the pandemic, we were the seventh most expensive state for renters,” said Berger. “Without the ‘People’s Bill’ the COVID health crisis will spiral into a housing crisis that will decimate our economy. Any number of evictions, but especially evictions of this magnitude, will have devastating impacts on renter households, the community, the economy, and state and local government budgets. We are deeply grateful to NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy and the NJ Pandemic Relief Fund for the opportunity to help New Jersey residents with this initiative.”

For more information: Nina Rainiero
(609) 393-3752 x1200
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